As an Arab-American growing up in Egypt I had never had a chance to play this illusive game of golf or even come close to being on a golf course.
Golf is still an individualistic and very much a discipline game for someone who played and lived for a long time with the game of proximity and improvisation: the soccer game.
Golf strives only in a culture of abundance where each player brings his/her own balls, bag, shoe, umbrella, raincoat, hats, cart, clubs and caddy. Soccer thrives in a scarce culture. All you need to do is to show up at the park, where there is no equipment needed, only one ball shared by all players, one for all and all for one.
In soccer you can use your head literary and figuratively in handling the ball, in golf you use only your instincts to hit this small ball straight on the fairway, every time. You can’t get too, one of the most difficult simple tasks you will ever encounter.
As an Arab-American, getting on the golf course for the first time is a refreshing experience and a wonderful treat. On the golf course. I’m not seen as a hyphenated American who is usually integrated with tough questions about the Middle East or Saddam Hussein’s WMD. Golfers transcend race, color and ethnicity; the only thing we see is the color of the green. We are just men in a man’s world, no cultural sensitivity or diversity training required. I’m just another golfer – a bad golfer it may be, but never bad Arab.
Our human energy is consumed with hitting this small ball. The erotic exhilaration of smashing this ball onto the fairway overwhelms our bias, racism and ethnocentric behavior.
I for a long tie has subscribed to the notion that Golf is played by old men wearing ugly pants. Now, golf is played by young men with “Nice Pants.” On the first hole, we are just men golfing who have met for the first time; by the time we are on the fifth hole we are golfing buddies; on the ninth hole we are drinking buddies (non-alcohol for me, please). And by the 18 hole, we all are talking about long-term friendship.
Golfing is a mental relaxation exercise, where my cognitive process is taken over by my instincts to stay the course. This is a quite a treat for an Arab-American who had been consumed by the never-ending political wrangling of biblical proportion, years of jihad over the fate of the holy land, on the golf course the only holy land that I cared about was the golf course. This is my jihad and I’m the only one who can do anything about it. Golf anyone?